Small businesses are fleeing Facebook after sweeping changes made to its news feed showing “more posts from friends and family” and “less public content,” from commercial entities.
According to reports, efforts to make Facebook more sociable has hurt the reach of “publishers and businesses,” resulting in a massive drop in traffic and sales.
“One of the Facebook policy changes that kind of went under the radar and it went into effect in February was the branded content policy,” Quirky Mama owner Holly Homer said. “And it decreased my income from Facebook by 60 percent, overnight. No explanation.”
“With over 3 million followers, Homer’s Facebook page had become so popular she hired five employees and her husband quit his full-time medical job to help with the business. Homer showed NBC News a chart of interactions with her Facebook page that shows a decrease in February when Facebook implemented changes to News Feed,” NBC News reports.
Little Things, a 4-year-old site whose business model was built on driving clicks by sharing feel-good videos on Facebook, recently closed down after traffic plummeted by a whopping 75 percent.
Forrester vice-president Melissa Parrish says Facebook’s newsfeed changes could prompt small businesses across the globe to rethink their social media strategies, hinting entrepreneurs could look to other social networking platforms to hit their sales and marketing targets. “This is real money for these influencers,” said Parrish. “It is all based on traffic. That’s why it can change overnight – because if suddenly your traffic goes away, so does your income.”
The dramatic news feed changes have already prompted some small business to abandon Facebook for Twitter’s “Timeline Ads,” which promises to “generate revenue for your site.” A Facebook spokesperson told NBC News that while it’s true users are now seeing less commercial content in their news feed, the purpose of the algorithm change is to “make sure that people can connect around authentic and engaging posts,” not impact the reach of small businesses.
In August, Facebook drew ire from publishers after Campbell Brown, the Silicon Valley giant’s head of global news partnerships, allegedly told Australian news executives that CEO Mark Zuckerberg “doesn’t care about publishers.”
“Mark [Zuckerberg] doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes,” Brown said. “We will help you revitalize journalism … in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice.”
“We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals any more. That is the old world and there is no going back,” she added.